Plantar Fasciitis: Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis, and Treatment
What Exactly Is Plantar Fasciitis?
Do your feet hurt? You may have plantar fasciitis. This is an inflammation of the plantar fascia, a strong fibrous ligament of the foot. It connects your Achilles tendon to the base of your heel and your toes. Typically, this ligament connects the bones in your feet to create the arch of the foot.
The plantar fascia is usually elastic, allowing some form of movement in the foot. However, when you overwork or stretch your feet, the plantar fascia could get ruptured. The plantar fascia rupture is what leads to Plantar fasciitis.
The rupture leads to painful inflammation, making walking and using your foot excruciating. Usually plantar fasciitis typically affects only one foot at a time. However, it can affect both feet simultaneously.
If you’ve been experiencing heel or foot joint pain for more than a week, you may need to see a doctor.
Plantar Fasciitis Symptoms
The most common symptom of plantar fasciitis is plantar heel pain. That is, chronic pain around the heel is called painful heel syndrome. Asides the chronic heel pain, other symptoms of plantar fasciitis include:
Intense, stabbing pain that typically gets worse in the morning. Moving around may offer temporary pain relief, but extended standing or activity can increase it.
Plantar fasciitis patients often experience pain after taking their first steps in the morning. They could also feel pain after sitting for a long time. This is called post-static dyskinesia.
Plantar fasciitis can also cause arch pain. Arch pain can result from plantar fascia irritation, which supports the arch.
The inner heel may become sensitive such that pressure makes the pain worse.
Plantar fasciitis can cause foot stiffness, especially in the morning or after resting.
Patients may feel pain after physical activity or stretching exercises.
Symptoms of this condition can vary in severity and across persons. Therefore, you may want to consult a doctor if you have plantar fasciitis.
Plantar Fasciitis Risk Factors
In the majority of instances, plantar fasciitis develops for no apparent reason. There are, however, many risk factors that can increase susceptibility:
- New or expanded action
- High-impact, repetitive exercises
- Prolonged standing on hard surfaces
- Flat feet
- Poor arch support
- Squeezed calf muscles
- Age (plantar fasciitis is most prevalent between the ages of 40 and 60)
Diagnosing Plantar Fasciitis
After discussing your symptoms and concerns, your doctor will conduct a physical exam. They will search for these indicators to diagnose plantar fasciitis:
An elevated arch or flat foot
A painful spot on the sole of your foot just in front of the heel bone
Limited dorsiflexion, or “up” motion.
They may also look for an absence of other similar symptoms like insertional Achilles tendinitis, calcaneal (heel) stress fracture, or plantar nerve entrapment.
Plantar fasciitis may be diagnosed through imaging studies like xrays. X-rays will show heel spurs that may have been causing the plantar fasciitis pain.
Your doctor might request an MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) to scan for chronic plantar fasciitis. MRIs are typically used when the plantar fasciitis does not respond to treatment. Your doctor might also request it if he suspects the recalcitrant plantar fasciitis occurs due to a different issue.
Treatment Options for Plantar Fasciitis
Typically, plantar fasciitis can be managed with at-home treatments and hospital treatments. These treatments often relieve foot pain and reduce the likelihood of recurrent plantar fasciitis.
Home Treatments for Plantar Fasciitis
At home, you can perform the following treatments:
- Your doctor or physical therapist can show you stretching and massage techniques for your foot and calf muscles.
- Apply ice to your foot twice daily for 10 to 15 minutes. To massage the inflammation, wrap a frozen water bottle in a thin towel to shield the skin. After that, you can roll it along the bottom of your foot.
- Wear supportive shoes with cushioned arch support. Avoid wearing sandals, flip-flops, and other worn-out shoes without arch support.
- You can add orthotics or shoe inserts for additional arch support. Your doctor will recommend orthotics. These may be over-the-counter inserts or custom-made orthotics.
- Some studies show that night splints help relieve plantar fasciitis. Night splints reduce plantar fasciitis heel discomfort but are hard to adjust to.
- Wear a walking brace (a pneumatic cam walker) for a few weeks. It immobilizes your foot and relieves pressure on the plantar fascia. Your provider will inform you as to how long you must wear footwear.
If possible, refrain from playing sports or engaging in any activity that damages plantar fascia tissue. Also, the plantar fasciitis recovers before you start stressing it again.
Plantar Fasciitis Treatment at the Hospital
If home treatments fail, the most common methods doctors use in treating plantar fasciitis include the following:
- Nonprescription nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs: These drugs will reduce pain and inflammation. When possible, consult with a healthcare professional before taking NSAIDs.
- Cortisone injections: Your healthcare professional may inject a corticosteroid into your plantar fascia.
- Extracorporeal shockwave therapy: Your provider will apply focused acoustic waves to your plantar fascia. This increases blood flow.
- Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) injection: PRP is typically injected to aid in healing sole injury causes and treatment.
- Percutaneous needle tenotomy: Your doctor will insert a needle through your epidermis and into your plantar fascia. Your body sends more circulation than usual to the area, which stimulates the ability of your plantar fascia to heal.
Heel Spurs and Plantar Fasciitis, Are They the Same Thing?
Plantar fasciitis and heel spurs are different, but they are related. Plantar fasciitis describes the inflammation of the plantar fascia. This band of tissue extends from the heel to the toes. It causes heel pain, especially in the morning or after resting.
However, heel spurs are bone spurs on the bottom of the heel bone. A heel spur can form as the body repairs and stabilizes chronic plantar fasciitis. Heel spurs are usually painless. However, when they touch foot nerves or soft tissues, they might cause heel discomfort.
Finally, not all heel spurs cause discomfort. Similarly, not all plantar fasciitis instances are linked to heel spurs.
Is Surgery Always Necessary for Plantar Fasciitis?
You can treat plantar fascia with nonsurgical treatment as described above. However, in rare cases, you might need surgery. The two most common surgeries include:
Gastrocnemius recession surgery. Your surgeon will elongate your calf muscles. This could help relieve pressure on your plantar fascia.
Plantar fascial release. Your surgeon will make microscopic incisions (cuts) in your plantar fascia. This releases the excess tension in the area.
Your healthcare provider or surgeon will advise on the type of operation you’ll need to treat plantar fasciitis. They may also recommend Cosmetic Foot Surgery to improve its appearance afterward.
Speak With Our Podiatrist
Don’t let heel discomfort, plantar fasciitis, or heel spurs limit your life. Consult our podiatrist in Santo Domingo immediately. Dr. Ivan Silva has several years of experience and is able to diagnose your condition accurately and offer you a variety of treatment options.
Remember, foot care is vital to your health. Please make an appointment with our qualified podiatrist now. Regain mobility, comfort, and activity. Your feet will thank you!